Nothing Could Be Finer

As the old song goes, “Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina in the morning.” Personally, I would change the lyrics to say, “Nothing could be finer than to be in Chapel Hill, North Carolina the week after the national championship win.” Not quite as catchy maybe, but man is it true.

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If you’re a sports fan or have any connection to a sports fan or the University of North Carolina, then you watched the game last Monday night. And you know it was ugly.  Both teams were sloppy, no one could hit a shot, and everyone was in the double bonus with fifteen minutes left in the second half. I spent the majority of the game with my eyes closed, mentally preparing myself for the utter devastation of losing the national championship game two years in a row.

And yet somehow (and I still don’t know how), every time I checked the score we were within a few points and sometimes even in the lead. And then Isaiah hit that shot and Kennedy made that block and you could see it in their eyes…they knew. When the final buzzer sounded, it took a few seconds for it to sink in: We won the national championship.  There was plenty of screaming and jumping around as we watched the confetti fall. We watch live coverage of college kids spilling out of bars onto Franklin street. We didn’t go, but we thought about when we did. Later, I may have shed a tear during One Shining Moment. Redemption is pretty sweet, indeed.

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On Saturday we decided we needed to venture over to Chapel Hill to stock up on national championship gear and introduce Finley to one of our favorite places on earth.  And we made sure to pack it all in. We admired Old South and took pictures by the Well. We had blue cups at He’s Not and joked with strangers on Franklin Street. There was something in the air—a certain electricity that’s not there all the time. People were celebrating, yes, but it was more than that. We all got it—how unique this is, how lucky we are to be a part of it.

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I promise that after this post I’ll stop gushing about Carolina—at least for a little while. But there’s something about being on campus in the spring, a few days after winning it all, that makes you want to stop and celebrate. It’s a good day to be a Tar Heel, y’all. Nothing could be finer.

On Being a Tar Heel

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I don’t write about it here often because people tell me that I can be a tad obnoxious. (I prefer to think of it as passion.) Still, when I think about my favorite things in the whole world, there is one thing that finds its way to top of the list every single time:

Carolina Basketball.

I come by the obsession honestly.  I am a born and bred Tar Heel.  My dad instilled in me a love of all things Carolina—especially Carolina basketball—from the very start.  He passed on the kind of love that can elicit the sweetest kind of euphoria and the worst kind of heartbreak within seconds of one another. It’s the kind of love that makes you want to jump over fires and throw things at the tv.  It’s the kind of love that makes you feel a little giddy when you hear names like Phil Ford or Tyler Hansbrough or Dean Smith. It’s pure bliss.

I was a junior at UNC when the Heels won the 2009 national championship. I will never forget that night—the confetti, the noise, the celebration. I sprinted to Franklin Street with a few thousand of my new best friends to jump over fires and climb trees and sing Hark the Sound at the top of my lungs. There’s just no other happiness quite like that.

Tonight the Heels take the court in the title game for the second year in a row.  As I watch tonight, I’ll inevitably be thinking about Marcus Paige and Brice Johnson and the game that could have been. I’ll be thinking about my sister and how much I wanted her to have a championship like I did before she graduated last May. I’ll be thinking about that last second, punch-in-the-stomach buzzer beater (and I’ll try not to cry).

I’ll be thinking about 2009 and reliving the days when I could actually participate in the shenanigans going on down on Franklin Street. And yes, I’ll be thinking about 2005 and 1993 and 1982 and 1957. Because, dynasty.

I’ll be thinking about Luke Maye’s game winning jumper over Kentucky and Kennedy’s incredible performance versus Oregon.  I’ll be thinking about Justin Jackson draining threes like nobody’s business, and unfortunately I’ll probably be thinking about our free throw percentage.

But mostly I’ll be thinking about how lucky I am to be a part of the Carolina family.  I’ll be thinking about how incredible it is that I’ve gotten to watch so many games in the Dean Dome, surrounded by the kind of legacy most programs never achieve . I’ll be thinking about football games in the fall and picnics on the quad in the spring—how the campus changes colors with the seasons, but is gorgeous in every single light. I’ll think about how I feel every time I hear James Taylor’s Carolina in my Mind and how that little town in Blue Heaven holds some of the best memories of my life. I’ll be thinking about the people I spent four years with there and how being a Tar Heel means you have family no matter where you go. And I’ll be thinking that win or lose, it’s a really good day to be a Tar Heel. Always.

Go Heels!